Critical Linking

Critical Linking: November 16, 2012

Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.



Ultimately, if paradoxically, it was Dickinson and Melville’s refusal to court and attain a mass audience while they lived that has resulted in their enduring canonical status.

Maybe. But we still read “popular” authors like Emerson, Twain, Dickens, and so on.

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But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you

Seems that Philip Roth wasn’t the man to see if you were in need of a pep-talk.

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With my e-book, I no longer pause over the slight caress of the almost turned page—a rapture of anticipation—I just whisk away. Our hands become brooms, sweeping away the alphabetic dust before us.

Drivel.

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But now I wonder if there’s also something new. Not middlebrow, not highbrow (we still don’t have an avant-garde to speak of), but halfway in between. Call it upper middle brow. The new form is infinitely subtler than Midcult. It is post- rather than pre-ironic, its sentimentality hidden by a veil of cool. It is edgy, clever, knowing, stylish, and formally inventive. It is Jonathan Lethem, Wes Anderson,Lost in Translation, Girls, Stewart/Colbert, The New Yorker, This American Life and the whole empire of quirk, and the films that should have won the Oscars (the films you’re not sure whether to call films or movies).

This, on the other hand, has the sting of truth to it.